Sitting behind a keyboard in the privacy of your home, it’s easy to feel that you’re invincible and invisible. You can do whatever you’d like and post whatever you’d like, wherever you’d like – and since you use a fake name or handle, no one will ever know it was you.
We all know it doesn’t really work like that. And most people know by now that Internet activity isn’t difficult to track; every computer or connection can be identified by its IP number, and everyone from hackers to Google and government agencies can potentially use that information to know where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
There’s no realistic way to be completely anonymous when you’re online. But there are definitely ways to protect your Internet privacy. Other than taking obvious steps like disabling cookies, using private browsing and not staying logged into Facebook or your Google account when surfing, it’s important to use the best VPN service you can find.
In simple terms, a virtual private network (or VPN) acts as a middleman between your computer and your Internet destinations, encrypting communications in both directions and substituting one of its own IP addresses (and locations) for your own. That way, no one looking at data or activity logs will be able to connect you to the online viewing and downloading that you’ve done. And since everything you send and receive is encrypted, using a VPN is essential whenever you’re using a Wi-Fi hotspot; it prevents hackers from easily accessing your machine to steal personal information or data.
At least, that’s the way a VPN is supposed to work. But as with all products and services, some are better than others. Only the best VPN service and the best VPN software can give you the maximum amount of privacy when you’re online.
It’s not the early 2010s anymore. When looking for the best VPN for 2016 needs, you need to find one that provides features which weren’t available a few years ago. One of the most important is the ability to change “your” IP and location (in other words, change the intermediate server that’s between you and the Internet) at any time. Changing your IP and location regularly will obscure your surfing tracks even further, will let you move away from an IP that ends up being banned by some services, and will allow you to reach streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu which restrict access to specific locations. Look for a provider with multiple servers in multiple cities and countries.
The best VPN service will also guarantee that it doesn’t keep logs of your activity. If a record of everything you’ve done online has been compiled by your VPN provider and could be accessed or subpoenaed by a company or government agency, there’s no way your surfing and downloading can be considered truly private.
Finally, any service considered the best VPN in 2016 must be able to provide the best VPN software for your computer. That way you’ll know that your connection to the virtual network, the encryption of your data and the decryption of the information you receive is all being done with state-of-the-art technology and in complete privacy.
Ask about all of these features before committing to any virtual private network. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you owe it to yourself to make sure a VPN is truly private.